Students, alums sue to stop Golden Gate University from dropping law degree program

February 19, 2024
Feb 16 (Reuters) – The alumni association and four current students at Golden Gate University School of Law sued the university and its president on Wednesday in California state court, seeking to stop the planned closure of its juris doctor program.
Golden Gate officials announced in late November that the university will discontinue the J.D. program in May in response to financial shortfalls resulting from enrollment declines, a sluggish employment market, and low bar exam pass rates. The 123-year-old school would continue to offer non-J.D. law-related graduate and undergraduate degrees, they said.
The plaintiffs’ breach of contract lawsuit, opens new tab, filed in San Francisco, alleges students were kept in the dark about the law school’s bleak finances and that administrators haven’t provided adequate transfer options for students left in the lurch.
Golden Gate University issued a statement on Friday calling the lawsuit “frivolous” and said officials were looking forward to its “prompt dismissal.”
The lawsuit also claims that Golden Gate president David Fike mismanaged the law school by taking out loans against the law school campus, launching unproven new degree programs, and eliminating tuition for students beginning in 2022 in a bid to make the school more competitive.
The complaint said it was “simply astonishing” that the school offered free tuition and then ran out of money before those students completed their degree.
“The fact that this occurred speaks to the serious leadership issues at the university,” said the complaint, filed by San Francisco attorney Ryan Griffith, a Golden Gate law alumni.
Griffith told Reuters Friday the judicial process will help to reveal information on matters Fike and others have “hidden from students, alumni, and university stakeholders.”
The plaintiffs are seeking a preliminary injunction to stop the J.D. program from shutting down in addition to damages. The American Bar Association has yet to sign off on Golden Gate’s required closure plan, the complaint said.,the%20planned%20closure%20of%20its%20juris%20doctor%20program.